Tucker Carlson Doesn’t Care
The establishment hates him more than anyone, and the veteran D.C. journalist just laughs in their faces.
The Long Slide: Thirty Years in American Journalism, by Tucker Carlson (Threshold Editions: 2021), 288 pages.
It seems very like Tucker Carlson to launch a broadside against his publisher on one of the very first pages of his new book.
Opening The Long Slide: Thirty Years in American Journalism, I was greeted by the Acknowledgement. It reads: “I’d like to acknowledge Jonathan Karp of Simon & Schuster, whose descent from open-minded book editor to cartoonish corporate censor mirrors the decline of America itself. It’s been a sad education watching it happen.”
I flipped back a few pages to double-check. The Long Slide was, in fact, published by an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Tucker Carlson has enshrined his contempt for his publisher not at the end of the book, where acknowledgements are generally found, but just before the Introduction. You know, so nobody misses it.
As the title indicates, The Long Slide is a self-selected collection of Tucker’s best magazine essays from 30 years in journalism. But first, he spends a 25-page introduction trashing Simon & Schuster. Tucker was under contract for the book when Simon & Schuster announced, a day after the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill, that they would be dropping Senator Josh Hawley’s forthcoming book The Tyranny of Big Tech over his decision to vote against certifying the Pennsylvania election results.
Tucker called Karp demanding an explanation, and he carefully reproduces their e-mail and Zoom conversations, in which the publisher and other staffers attempt to offer an explanation other than politics and public relations. Tucker wasn’t buying it, and if you buy his essay collection from Simon & Schuster, you will first be treated to a couple dozen pages detailing why Simon & Schuster is helping to destroy America.
At a recent book signing, Tucker chuckled that he’s not sure whether their decision to publish it was brave or whether they were too cowed to cancel his book. It is hard not to admire how much he doesn’t care about their opinion. He calls it how he sees it, regardless of the consequences.
Once you make it through all of the current cancel culture politics, The Long Slide is a beautifully written collection of essays ranging from Tucker’s accurate prediction that the corruption of D.C. politics could win Trump the White House to his adventures with massive spud gun artillery and road trips through Nevada with Ron Paul. When Tucker was asked recently what attracted him to journalism, his answer was short: “I wanted to have an interesting life.” The Long Slide is evidence that he certainly has.
In a 2003 essay, for example, Tucker describes heading to Liberia with Al Sharpton, Cornel West, and a group of black nationalists because Sharpton had decided to broker an unofficial peace deal between war criminal President Charles Taylor and the collection of warlords and revolutionaries determined to kill him. Despite the collective insanity of the trip, most surprising is the fact that Tucker likes the reverend, and even defends his sincerity. Sharpton, incidentally, once threw him a book party.
There are more sobering pieces, too. His 1996 Weekly Standard essay on “Eugenics, American Style” is, as he notes, as shocking now as it was then. He describes in detail the extent to which abortion is being used in the United States to eliminate children considered imperfect by their parents. Children with Down syndrome have been almost wiped out by abortionists doing the work of eugenicists at the request of their closest relatives. The numbers are brutal.
Interestingly, Carlson told a pro-life audience a few years back that the abortion issue is deeply personal for him—first, because his father Richard was born in 1941 in Boston to a 15-year-old girl and sent to an orphanage. If this had happened after 1973, he noted, “I wouldn’t be here.” There was also the time a doctor told Carlson and his wife that their second child (of four)—now a healthy, strapping son—likely had Spina Bifida. As doctors so often do, he offered them the eugenic option and suggested they procure an abortion. “My wife responded with a very bad word,” Carlson recalled. “The very bad word, to indicate that no way this was happening.” Susan Carlson informed the doctor in no uncertain terms that “you’re not allowed to kill that child. You know why? Because you’re not God.”
The most powerful essay in the collection is his report from Iraq in March 2004. What he witnessed there caused him to change his mind on Operation Iraqi Freedom—and would, eventually, transform Tucker into one of the fiercest critics of the GOP’s neoconservative wing. It didn’t take long, he wrote, to realize that America couldn’t win the war. The U.S. wasn’t cut out to be a colonial power and didn’t know why she was there immediately after smashing the Iraqi military.
“The result,” he notes, “was failure, accompanied by chaos on every level. Watching it, I realized there was nothing conservative about neoconservatism. The neocons were just liberals with guns, the most destructive kind.”
Tucker has since become one of the neocon gang’s primary targets; David Frum, Bill Kristol, and Max Boot are frequently reduced to spluttering rage by his monologues. He genuinely doesn’t seem to care. In his 1999 essay “Devil May Care,” on his time with George W. Bush, he notes that Bush appeared to have a compulsive need to be blunt and wasn’t bothered by what people thought of him. That description could easily be applied to Tucker, as well.
The people who attack him, says Tucker, are acting in bad faith. They don’t want to hear his explanation and don’t care about an apology—they’re just trying to shut him up or hurt him or his career. Besides from his wife, his father, his children, and some friends, he ignores all criticism.
A few years ago, I attended a speech Tucker gave in D.C., and at one point he joked that some journalist was sure to deliberately misinterpret his remarks as racist. While exiting through the lobby, I spotted a journalist (I think from the New York Times) pounce, demanding to know how he’d respond to those who might find his remarks to be racially charged. Tucker started to respond, then stopped and gave an explosive laugh. “Oh, f— off,” he said, and turned to talk to a young boy who was asking to get a photo with him. The reporter resembled a cat who’d just had a bucket of water chucked on it.
Much of what he says—and writes—still has that effect. For that reason alone, The Long Slide is well worth the read.
Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has appeared in National Review, The European Conservative, the National Post, and elsewhere. Jonathon is the author of The Culture War and Seeing Is Believing: Why Our Culture Must Face the Victims of Abortion as well as the co-author with Blaise Alleyne of A Guide to Discussing Assisted Suicide.